Passage From Huatulco to Chiapas

We departed Huatulco about 11:30 and had great sailing for about 12 hrs then the wind died and we motored for almost the next 36 hrs. Numerous pods of dolphins were joining us including this group which hung around the longest. I’m not sure what type they are but they were some of the largest I’ve seen yet.

We also saw numerous small turtles every 200-300 yards for almost the entire day. One of funniest things was occasionally we’d see a gull standing on the back of the turtles catching a ride.IMG_1055Another interesting thing we saw was numerous boobies trying to land on the mast or the spreaders. Out of at least 30 or more that tried to land only one was successful.  You have to realize the mast is swinging to and fro as much as 4-6′ but for some reason they had a strong desire to perch!IMG_1070IMG_1068

Late in the afternoon we could see a large school of something way off in the distance jumping out of the water one after the other. At first we thought it was manta rays and after looking through the binoculars we could see it was a large school of spinner dolphins. We turned the boat around and headed towards them. I tried to take video but the GoPro doesn’t do a very good job at long distance and as we got close to them they started veering off. Quite a sight to behold and the pictures do capture just how high out of the water they come. What it doesn’t capture is how many spins they make before splashing back into the water. It appeared that they could do 6-7 360 degree lateral spins. One of the coolest things I’ve seen yet! Pretty amazing day to say the least. I never dreamed the diversity and abundance of wildlife I’d witness and this day was one of the best!

We motored on hoping for wind but it never did come. When we had come down from Ixtapa to Huatulco we had started seeing lightning way off in the distance at night and more clouds than I’ve seen since leaving Washington back in October. One night we were sailing along and it started raining and the wind ramped up really fast to 15 knots. I reefed the main quickly because the boat was rapidly picking up speed and I wasn’t sure how high it would go. It died back down relatively quickly, but soon shot back up again and this time I had to furl the main completely. It didn’t last but about 10-15 minutes and it was over and we were back to sailing again with full sails.

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Sunset before the storm

On our last night from Huatulco to Chiapas I had once again seen lightning way off in the distance but we were motoring and we had no wind. According to the weather forecast there was a chance that we would start getting enough wind to sail around 4 am. We were doing 4 hour watches and mine was over at midnight. Thibault took over and I went below to sleep until my next watch at 4 am. I was really looking forward to a good nap and had my alarm set for 3:45 am. For some reason I woke up at 3 am and when I started exiting the companionway I immediately could tell conditions had changed dramatically. The wind had picked up to 28 knots and we were bashing into 3′-4′ steep choppy seas in rapid succession. The boat was like a bucking bronco! At one point we were only making .1 to .2 knots of speed over ground. Thibault had seen the worst of it and went down to sleep while I rode out the 24 knots from 4 am until 6:30 am when it finally started dying down. Pretty exciting stuff with the lightning flashing, the wind howling in darkness and the boat crashing through the waves. I hadn’t seen weather anything like this in quite sometime. Around 7:30 am I went below to check on something and when I came back up topside there was a panga about 50 yards off the port stern with 2 fisherman heading directly for me. We were 40 miles offshore and I was bewildered. The one in the bow was holding up about a 4′ marlin and I assumed they were trying to sell me a fish. We still had dorado left over from the one Thibault had caught earlier, we were about 10 hours from Chiapas and the marlin he was holding up had to have been  25-35 lbs. I said no gracias and they pulled up along beside me so I slowed down. The driver spoke very little english but he was grinning away. He got really close and with the sea was still pretty choppy and we were rocking pretty good and his boat actually bumped up against mine. I expressed that he needed to be careful and he started easing away. He was trying really hard to communicate with me but I couldn’t make any sense of it. His partner in the bow of the boat held up 2 5′ sharks and then off they went. It was somewhat surreal to say the least. These pangas are about 20′ long and open and what they were doing so far out is beyond me. I suspect they were illegally fishing because I think the sharks are off limits.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and on the plus side the storm had cooled things down considerably. It was the coolest it had been in several days and we were thankful for it. The highs have been around 86 and the lows around 82 with the humidity fluctuating between 75 and 90%. As the day went on and the wind died off completely it got hot again. It gets up to 92 degrees in the boat if there isn’t any wind and the motor is running. I’m far from acclimated to the high temperatures and humidity that were encountering this far south. I took on average 3-4 showers a day to try and cope which helped some but not nearly enough. As we were getting close to Chiapas we could see two huge mountains on the shore. I wish I’d have taken a picture before the clouds rolled in because they are actually extinct volcanoes.

We also started seeing large schools of baitfish all over though I have no idea what kind they were.IMG_1174IMG_1175

One of if not the most interesting days I’ve had so far on the journey! Extremely long post I know but I’ve got some of the best wifi I’ve had in days and it was quite eventful as you can tell.

 

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